There's something out of place in this next photo. If you can't spot it, can't figure it out, here's a clue: the grey stones in the photo are part of a staircase.
If you guessed that the pair of bamboo shoots is the problem, you're right! I know I'm crazy about bamboo and will plant it almost anywhere I can in my yard, but I'm not crazy enough to plant it in the middle of a staircase. Obviously I've had a rhizome escape, and it's time to take care of it.
Here's the plant so you can get a better idea of what's going on here:
The stairs and the staircase-blocking shoots are in the lower right corner of that photo.
They're pretty good-sized shoots too, so maybe this plant is ready to put on a little height this year?
Taking a look around, I can see at least one additional rhizome above the top step:
I knew that I wasn't very thorough with the rhizome pruning on this plant last year, and this is what happens. It's a nice little stairway from the driveway down to the patio, but I think it's going to get a little messed up:
So assessing the situation, it's obvious that the rhizome comes straight out of the main planting area, so I'll just dig here and find the wayward rhizome:
Once I dug down though, I saw that the rhizomes here were previously cut:
Hmmm. Those shoots are much too large to be coming from a severed rhizome, so there must be another rhizome somewhere... I dug deeper:
Still nothing. Moving downhill and carefully removing some plants and soil, I found another rhizome and another shoot:
unfortunately that rhizome doesn't appear to be going to any of these shoots, which means there are more rhizomes here too.
The root of the problem is this rock which interfered with my rhizome pruning:
Removing it, I could see a couple more rhizomes, and some more shoots!
Pulling out the one rhizome that was headed down the hill (away from the shoots that I'm trying to remove), it ended up being 5'-6' long:
At this point I put the camera down and got serious about digging, rhizome location, and removal. Got another rhizome out:
Unfortunately it was not connected to the original shoots either!
Getting more aggressive with the shovel, I finally got the last of the rhizomes out:
A bit more work than I bargained for, that's for sure. The stairway is looking a little worse now too:
So what originally looked like a single rhizome escape ended up being... three, four, five... I'm not sure how many rhizomes.
Looking at the bright side, I have several nice rhizome sections to pot up now:
Although the existing shoots on these won't reach their full size and may actually "abort" (stop growing, die, and rot) these will turn into very nice plants in a year or two.
To think that I was worried that I didn't have any divisions of this bamboo (Phyllostachys aureosulcata 'aureocaulis') potted up. I certainly do now.
This hopefully will reinforce the importance of thorough rhizome pruning in my mind. I don't want to be doing this every spring!